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Cancelled – An Interview with Eternity Magazine

Following the Premier debacle Eternity magazine here in Australia did an interview which was published this weekend…

Just as some Eternity readers were questioning the boundaries of what we should publish a couple of weeks ago – in response to a couple of controversial opinion pieces, David Robertson, a Christian apologetics writer recently settled in Australia was getting cancelled by London’s Premier Christianity magazine.“Cancelled” that is, in terms of seemingly being permanently banned.

Robertson is one of a rare species in Australian Christianity, as he is rather better known overseas than here. He has the curious nickname “the Wee Flea”, a pun on the name some Scots use for his old denomination the Free Church of Scotland or “wee frees”. But his case is a useful one to ponder – at least for this editor.

Amazingly enough Robertson was punished for writing about the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry interview with Oprah. Not a topic Eternity covered.  John Sandeman

David Robertson kindly answered some questions posed by Eternity.

Of all the thing a Christian commenter might get in trouble for, one would not put a Royal TV interview anywhere near the top of the list before this week, surely? Were you surprised?

No – not really.  In a world where identity politics and celebrity are key metrics, I was not surprised that daring to question the Princess and Prince of Woke would result in backlash.  In fact, I find that in today’s world it’s almost impossible not to offend someone in public – unless you are so bland as to be boring beyond belief! When I was asked to write the article, I knew I was putting my head on the chopping block!

You predicted the content of the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle interview very precisely. But you got in trouble for saying she would “play the race card.” Would you put that a different way? Maybe like Greg Sheridan said in “the Australian” that the issue was “weaponized”?

I find it interesting that you think ‘weaponised’ is a gentler way than saying ‘play the race card’! I would have thought that playing cards is a lot gentler than using weapons. But in today’s world I suspect words have largely lost much of their meaning. Greg Sheridan by the way went way further than me – he talked about Harry and Meghan weaponizing not only race but mental health.

Have you been cancelled for good?

Yes. I think so. Anyway, I would not want to write for a magazine which treated its writers in that way. I was asked to write this article. The editor approved it, thanked me and published it. It was only when he got some pushback that he then changed his mind and repented on my behalf and threw me under the bus. I’m afraid that his actions mean that I will be forever tainted as ‘that guy who had a racist article pulled’, despite the fact that it was not racist. But mud sticks. Even (or especially?) in Christian circles.

Any advice for Eternity?

Don’t second guess what the Woke world will think about your articles. Stick by your writers. Be prepared to allow disagreements. And above all don’t let the fear of the mob come before the fear of the Lord!

Leaving Royalty to one side, what’s the most important issue for Christians today?

Royalty is about 100th on the list – unless it is the King of Kings! I think we need to understand the culture, be compassionate and be courageous. We must speak the truth, (not lies), in love (not hate).  I’m afraid that much of the Church is just becoming a pale shadow of the culture – whether on the Right or the Left. We reflect the identity politics, celebrity culture and shallow triviality of our confused contemporary society. We prefer dumbed down social media, to reading, reasoning and thinking. We are struggling with how to be prophetic, leadership and how to be salt and light. Perhaps the most important contemporary issue today is ‘What is a human being?”.

 

Some readers might be asking “what would Eternity do?” (WWED?)  We’ve answered part of that by asking David to take part in this interview. Eternity is happy to feature him, and we hope to again. Being familiar with his long track record of commentary in Britain I know he is not a racist. UK readers would have known that, too. I think it might have been helpful for David – or the editor of Premier Christianity rather – to also note while that being less than enthusiastic about Meghan Markle’s putative critique of the royal family, the Bible teaches us that “every tribe and tongue and nation” will gather in heaven, and that kingdom value of racial equality applies here and now. Sometimes it falls to the editor to say the things can’t be said too often.  And I appreciate David’s advice not to panic in the face of a mob. John S

I added the following to John’s comments:

Thanks John – I note the reminder that “it might have been helpful for David – or the editor of Premier Christianity rather – to also note while that being less than enthusiastic about Meghan Markle’s putative critique of the royal family, the Bible teaches us that “every tribe and tongue and nation” will gather in heaven, and that kingdom value of racial equality applies here and now. ” I have based my ministry on the hope of that promise in Revelation 7. It’s why I had a church in Dundee with over 20 nationalities, and people from every continent. It’s also why I don’t like it when people play the race card for personal advantage and thereby do damage to the anti-racist cause. Of course it is possible I may have misread and misinterpreted Meghan Markle, but given that she offered no proof at all of the alleged racism she experienced within the Royal Family, I think my analaysis still stands. However I do not think it is right that am accused either of racism or racial insensitivity, because of my view that Markle was playing the race card…

I also find it ironic that every day this week I have been getting an e-mail from Premier using Easter to plead with me (and others) for money to make up a £500,000 shortfall.  I won’t be contributing!

 

 

 

14 comments

  1. Love it David – really enjoyed reading this.

    “In today’s world it’s almost impossible not to offend someone in public – unless you are so bland as to be boring beyond belief!” True – has there ever been a time where it has been possible to not offend someone in public without being bland?

    “I’m afraid that much of the Church is just becoming a pale shadow of the culture – whether on the Right or the Left.” Indeed and there is nothing new under the sun with this as well. The same is true in principle today of the Church to a large part as for the national church in 1930s Germany with Hitler’s “positive Christianity” and the swastika appearing alongside the cross, Mein Kampf appearing alongside the bible. Statistically, if we were around at that time we would be more likely to be supportive of Hitler than of Bonhoeffers “confessional Christianity” and we would be deluding ourselves to assume we would be rescuing Ann Frank.

    “We are struggling with how to be prophetic, leadership and how to be salt and light.” Yet again, noting new under the sun here. The road to destruction is wide, easy and many travel on it. Whereas the path to life is narrow, difficult and few people walk it. Prophets always have been without honour among their own people. And when Jesus pronounced this fact in the synagogue at Nazareth, people were incensed and wanted to throw him off a cliff. Somehow he walked away from that.

    So, sometimes all we can do when we are not welcomed or listened to is to take back our peace, walk away and let our peace rest on people who are welcoming and listening to us wiht the encouragement that id you are hated because of Christ, blessed are you for this is how the prophets were treated and great is (present tense) your reward in the kingdom!

  2. I too, along with many others I’m sure, have been receiving begging emails from Premier in the last few days. I’m assuming that their primary reason for cancelling you was financial rather than any sort of principle, perhaps a major sponsor or advertiser threatening to pull the plug if the woke party line wasn’t adhered to. It will be interesting to see whether the path they’ve apparently chosen to follow will lose them even more support in the long term.

    I agree entirely with you that the modern Western church is far too often no more than a reflection of what’s going on in the secular world. I am alarmed by how many of my Christian friends on Facebook simply repeat like parrots whatever woke memes are in vogue at any given time. I’m sickened by how many are ready to make casual accusations of sexism/racism/whateverism against fellow Christians simply because it’s what the surrounding culture is doing.

  3. David

    I fully understand what you say about not contributing to Premier and not wanting to. The question in my mind is who Premier will find to challenge the false teachings of Steve Chalke from now on, or whether he will be allowed to go unchallenged?

    1. Steve Chalke speaks his truth much like Meghan Markle. I’ve yet to see him discuss a topic without making it all about him.

  4. Sounds like Premier are going bust, David…….but any organization that compromises with the world, will be abandoned by the Lord and go into decline….as many of the mainstream churches are also discovering. Ichabod!

    1. I don’t want to say that David didn’t answer the questions put to him in a very good way. But I think that you might also want to acknowledge the quality of the questions posed to him.

      John Sandeman is a very good journalist and interviewer and editor. Eternity Magazine, which is put out by The Bible Society in Australia, is a quality publication. They are well served by John Sandeman.

  5. People in China have more freedom than you possess, Rev.

    In the West a serious cultural critique of just about anything will incur a ban such as the one which you have unjustly suffered. , while in China the only proscribed criticism is that which is deemed anti – Govt .

    1. The situation in China is far worse….because anything that does not go along with the CCP, including Christianity, is considered anti-government. In the UK I just get cancelled – in China I would be in jail…or worse…

      1. David, would just like to pick you up on your comment on China, much to agree with but Regarding not agreeing with the govt here and being put into jail, it is sometimes the case, more the exception than the rule nowadays. Those who try and standup to the government directly are often made an example of. We here do need to pick our battles and rather than fighting against the anti democratic system as some are overly eager to do., It would be wiser to focus on the materialism in the hearts of everyday people if we want to do a good work for JC and not unnecessary provoke the state. Not an ideal situation, but one I believe of choosing our battles wisely.

      2. Thanks for those comments. Are you suggesting that one million Uighurs have not been put in concentration/work camps?, that 1,000 churches in Shanghai alone have not been pulled down? That Hong Kong Christians have not been arrested? Of course being put in jail is the exception rather than the rule – that’s true in every dictatorship – including North Korea. And no – I am not suggesting that the Christians should unnecessarily provoke the State – although given that the Chinese State relies on materialism I’m not sure why your suggestion would not also provoke persecution! But you are right – it is not the job of the Church to change the regime – but there is no way round this fact – The CCP are right – the church and the Gospel are the biggest threats they face. Those who preach the Gospel will turn the world upside down. Those who compromise and support and unjust, immoral and cruel State will only succeed in turning the church upside down!

      3. David, probably my fault for not being clear, no I don’t doubt there are bad things going on with Uighurs and many more. My comments were more addressed to the church in particular. I certainly don’t recognize the number of 1000 churches in shanghai being knocked down and can equivocally tell you it is not true. Would like to see the reference. Also need to distinguish between the local and national level, as locally the situation varies considerably.

        None of this of course negates the fact the state here is anti gospel, but so are the majority of People. They love the materialism and taking pleasure in the abundance of things. It’s not helpful to talk about the church and gospel as a threat, I agree it is, but not necessarily in the way the state would interpret. We need to be more nuanced in the way we talk about it so as to make sure if we end up dying on a hill, that at least it’s the right one and we don’t get caught up in the wrong battle.

        I don’t think I mentioned compromising or supporting the state and was certainly not my aim to give that impression, More that we have no interest in the levers of power and would prefer to pray for them rather than protest against them. Again it’s very nuanced and hard to explain in a short(ish) reply.

        So much of the news which filters back is not nuanced and misses a lot of background information and it’d be great to have a conversation In person about that one day, if we can ever travel again, or even better, invite you to see it for yourself.

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